Fearful of Court, Asylum Seekers are Banished in Absentia

Under Trump, an Obama strategy unravels.
Feature (NATIONAL, North Carolina, South Carolina)

Julia Preston
Marshall Project
July 30, 2017

Tags: Asylum, Immigration Process

Organizations mentioned/involved: Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy (formerly Legal Services of Southern Piedmont) (North Carolina)


Tens of thousands of families from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, and some from Mexico, came here citing their need for protection from predatory gangs and criminal violence. Now, they face the prospect of being sent back to countries they fear have not become any less dangerous.

Of nearly 100,000 parents and children who have come before the courts since 2014, most asking for refuge, judges have issued rulings in at least 32,500 cases, court records show. The majority – 70 percent – ended with deportation orders in absentia, pronounced by judges to empty courtrooms.

Their cases are failing just as President Trump is rapidly expanding deportations.